Muscle Shoals stands on the verge of making the first football state title game appearance in school history.
To get there, the Trojans must get past a team that looks pretty similar to themselves.
Only tonight’s Class 5A semifinal at McAdory (13-0) separates Muscle Shoals (13-0) from making history.
The winner advances to the AHSAA Super 6 to face the winner of Spanish Fort and St. Paul’s on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Like the Trojans, the host Yellow Jackets have ridden a Wing-T brand of offense and a stingy defense to an undefeated record and a shot at playing in the state title game for the first time in their program’s history.
“There are a lot of similarities,” Muscle Shoals coach Scott Basden said. “Offensively, they do some of the same things we do, but under center. They mainly run jet, trap and waggle out of it, and they run the inside cross out of it. They’re probably 60-40 in favor of the run.”
As has been the case all season, Muscle Shoals players were unavailable to comment this week due to Basden’s policy of not allowing player interviews except immediately after a game.
Running backs Garian Bradley (6-0, 230) and David Knight (5-11, 185), who scored three touchdowns in a 27-3 second-round win at Russellville, lead McAdory’s ground game, averaging 5.6 and 6.6 yards per carry, respectively.
Quarterback Kyran Moore provides a dynamic aspect to the offense. He has passed for 1,117 yards, rushed for 371 and excels at scrambling to keep plays alive.
That could be key against Muscle Shoals’ fast defensive front, the strength of a group that has held opponents to 75.7 yards rushing and 8.5 points a game.
“Their quarterback is a great player,” Basden said. “He’ll make you miss with his feet. He seems to do a great job of being really elusive. We need to make sure we don’t blow our assignments when he starts scrambling. Their offensive line is big and physical. They’ve got a big 6-3, 250 pound fullback. They’re a great football team. There’s a reason they’re undefeated.”
Defense has been part of it, too.
The Yellow Jackets are allowing 11.8 points a game and have plenty of size up front between linemen Taylor Reynolds (6-3, 260) and Dylan Cline (6-3, 255) and linebackers Alex Click (6-2, 228) and Darius Jackson (6-2, 200).
In a 28-22 win against Cullman last week, defensive back Damien Whitfield returned two interceptions for touchdowns, one 91 yards and the other 35.
“The strength of their team really is their defense,” Basden said. “They are big up front. We need to make sure we can handle the pressure there, and play with passion.
“Everybody knows what’s on the line. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of emotion.”
Bryan App can be reached at 256-740-5730 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @bappster on Twitter.